Star Trek Picard (PIC) Season 3 Guest Reviews

Season 1Season 2Season 3

The Last Generation


The Last Generation


Stardate not given: A Borg group apparently disconnected to a relatively intact collective led by a Queen taking the form of assimilated human Agnes Jurati and the disconnected Beta Quadrant refugees led by Hugh, prior to his death, has secretly built a transwarp hub and established their unicomplex inside the atmosphere of Jupiter in the Sol system. Although the biological components of this Borg group have almost completely been exterminated through necrosis, presumably by as a result of the illegal biological weapon used against them by Admiral Kathryn Janeway from an alternate future timeline that ceased to exist, they have nevertheless been able to introduce two devastating secret protocols throughout the computer systems of Starfleet. The first system allows the Borg to take computer control of all updated ships in the fleet. The second has introduced Borg systems into Starfleet officers at the genetic level through subversion of transporter systems fleetwide. Fortunately for the Federation, both components of the assimilation system are much weaker than previous Borg technology, requiring directions from a beacon in the Borg's Jupiter-based unicomplex. To operate the new collective, all commands must be routed via the beacon through the newly assimilated human Jack Crusher. Additionally, the advanced state of the necrosis has left the unicomplex almost completely defenseless. Having successfully assimilated nearly all the combined ships of Starfleet, the Borg focus their attention on destroying the Earth. Meanwhile, Admiral Jean Luc Picard and a tiny crew piloting the decommissioned museum starship USS Enterprise (1701-D) successfully locate Jack and disconnect him from the beacon, which is destroyed along with the unicomplex, reversing the assimilation, and freeing the fleet. For its supporting role in the battle, the USS Titan is rechristened as the USS Enterprise (1701-G).


I have barely been able to bring myself to watch this episode. Although I have been a lifelong Star Trek fan (having been exposed to TAS as a child in the 1970s and growing up with TOS in syndication), Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG) became and has remained my favorite part of the franchise, in no small part due to my love of the lead character, Jean Luc Picard. The potential to revisit this character in a new series was limitless. But in the end, after three failed seasons, that potential was utterly squandered. In the end, the series was not interested in exploring any new ideas or saying anything worth saying.

As with Star Trek: Discovery (DIS), the creators of Star Trek: Picard (PIC) did not understand the difference between serial and episodic television. In successful episodic series, you introduce a bunch of characters, hopefully with interesting backgrounds, and then, over the course of many episodes that consist of self-contained stories, the back stories of the characters are revealed and their relationships with one another are developed. For an episodic series to be successful, you do not need to know ahead of time how the series will end because each episode is a satisfying narrative.

For a successful serial series, like Russian Doll (season 1) or the Watchmen (2019 miniseries) or Heroes (season 1), you have to know where you are going ahead of time. By the time we had gotten mid-way through the first season of DIS, it became clear that the creators and writers had no idea where the serial was going. This led to a complete narrative failure. Unfortunately, the creators of PIC did not learn from this catastrophic mistake. Once again, it became increasingly clear by the middle of season 1 when Agnes Jurati murders Bruce Maddox without any consequences, that the writers had no idea where they were going. The conclusion that they set out without any idea where they were going was born out in the preposterous 2-part season 1 finale, PIC: "Et in Arcadia Ego."

The narrative failures of DIS and PIC have led many fans to conclude that the Star Trek franchise does not lend itself to serial storytelling, that Star Trek is naturally episodic. (And this thinking has apparently led to the creation of the episodic series, Star Trek: Lower Decks and Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, both of which are vast improvements on Discovery and Picard.) But the successful Dominion War narrative arc in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (DS9) already showed the potent for serial storytelling in Star Trek decades ago, and the first season of Star Trek: Prodigy (PRO) was an unexpectedly successful serial. In other words, it is very possible to create a successful Star Trek serial if you remember the key rule of figuring out where you are going before you get there --- something the writers of PRO clearly understand.

The second rule of serial storytelling is that plot developments can have consequences: characters can die, and the major political status quo of the galaxy can be upended. But in PIC, it seems, only unimportant characters can die for real. Picard dies, but his soul is effectively transferred into an android body that has the same physical and temporal limitations of his old body. No narrative potential of this massive transformation was ever explored. Likewise, Data has died and been reborn so many times that his deaths and rebirths no longer come with any feeling for me. We are in an era where Star Wars: The Mandalorian is able to re-introduce Luke Skywalker looking just as he looked in Return of the Jedi. How much more poignant would it have been to have Data or a Soong-type android in PIC who looked exactly like Data from TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint"? A truly immortal Data could have really allowed Picard and the other cast members to feel their mortality (as occurred in TNG: "All Good Things"). Unfortunately, the only characters that really die in the pseudo-serial of PIC are minor characters like Icheb and Hugh, who are killed in throwaway scenes.

Likewise major shifts in galactic politics in PIC do not have any consequences as the status quo is continually reset. At the beginning of season 1, the Romulan Empire was effectively destroyed and the Romulans are mostly living as impoverished refugees, and yet by the end of the season the Romulans are able to field the largest armada of new, identical ships, that we have ever seen in Star Trek. (Fortunately or unfortunately the Federation has a similarly unprecedented fleet of new, identical ships.) In season 1, the Borg collective is largely destroyed, and individuals are going through the slow, painful process of de-assimilation. But in season 2, the collective is again fielding fleets that could potentially destroy the Federation, but do not due to a time travel intervention that leaves Agnes Jurati as the Borg Queen. All of this is apparently forgotten in season 3, where the old Borg Queen is back and the collective is once again suffering as a consequence of the events in VOY: "Endgame."

Unfortunately, the catastrophic narrative failure of PIC's first season had two additional negative side-effects. In the first place, PIC had actually created potentially interesting characters, including Laris, Raffi Musiker, Dahj Asha, Chris Rios, Agnes Jurati, and Elnor. But over the course of the series, these were all essentially discarded (with the lone exception of Raffi). For example, I felt Elnor had a lot of interesting potential when he was introduced in PIC: "Absolute Candor", but nothing ever came of his character. He was abruptly killed to sit out the bulk of season 2 and then, although brought back to life, was shipped off never to be heard from in season 3. Similarly, Rios inexplicably decides to remain trapped in the past at the end of season 2. These changes were clearly made in the name of fan-service. As the series tanked, the original concept of PIC was discarded until season 3 evolved into a full-on TNG reunion. I love all of the characters from TNG, I love the Enterprise-D, and I love Seven of Nine from VOY. But I do not care about anything that happened in this episode, anymore than I care about anything that happened in "Star Trek Nemesis", among the worst feature films in the franchise's history, which PIC season 3 largely retreads.

Perhaps the only thing from this episode that I do care a little about is the fact that the grotesque, kit-bash USS Titan-A, the worst designed hero ship in the history of the franchise, is rechristened as the Enterprise-G, further denigrating the already problematic lineage of the Federation flagship.

Rating: 2 (John Hamer)


The Last Generation


"Previously, as the last time on Star Trek Picard..." - Jack Crusher Jnr, son of Beverly Crusher and Jean-Luc Picard, discovers he is a Borg codex, thanks to his father's genetics. Jack flees to the Borg to confront the Borg Queen and he is promptly assimilated. The Borg using DNA coding spread by rogue Changelings through starship transporters, plan to use Frontier Day to biologically assimilate Starfleet's young officers and crew to destroy Earth. The USS Titan is caught in this trap too. Picard & Co, fleeing USS Titan in a shuttle reactivate the reconstructed Enterpise-D to take on the Collective who have hidden their last outpost, an "Uber Cube" in the gases of Jupiter's Red spot. The Borg are revealed to have been ravaged by Admiral Janeway's pathogen - dying and decaying, this is their last hurrah to destroy the Federation and spread their philosophy across the Galaxy, as declared by a decomposing and crippled Borg Queen. Picard with assistance saves his son, the decayed Borg Collective are finally, permanently destroyed when the Uber Cube is obliterated. In turn, Earth and the surviving Starfleet ships are saved too. However, the Federation death toll is unprecedented. Dr Crusher eliminates the Borg coding from Starfleet personnel by correcting the transporters, exposing any remaining rogue Changelings in the process. A year later, the renamed USS Titan now under the command of Captain Seven of Nine, is relaunched as the Enterprise 1701-G. Picard and Crusher are both Admirals. The Enterprise-D takes her final mooring, joining amongst other ships, the NX-01, Enterprise-A, Excelsior, Defiant, and Voyager in the Starfleet Museum.


Review note: This review is a combination summary of both final epsiodes, in the end it made life easier to lump it all in one entry. Here we go.....

Picard's third and final season is a subtler back pedal than Discovery's 2nd season jump to the 32nd century. As predicted in my review of "Farewell" everything that was established as pure PIC has been dumped to allow for a dark and gloomy season of TNG as a final chapter of the era. I saw these two episodes while visiting friends. I noted their surprise that this felt like two episodes of a different series as the established bad guys were already gone and we were once again presented with the Borg as the enemy. Their surprise and puzzlement was on par with my own growing sense of apathy to what I was watching...

The second Troi panics after scanning Jack's mind at the start of Vox, I could predict what was happening. The cues and clues gave away the fact that the character of Crusher Junior was some kind of Borg Trojan horse. From that point onwards, the rest of the story is a disjointed game of join the dots that as much as it links together, is also convoluted and circumstantial, a retread of ideas that scored ratings thirty down to twenty years ago. It all seems so superficial, as its all built on previous ideas and concepts better written before. In TNG and pieces in Voyager, usually from Seven of Nine's perspective as a recently ex-drone.

The idea the Borg would switch to a biological form of assimilation is presented as new and innovative, but it's not really. Voyager's "Dark Frontier" suggested this idea though it was not implemented. The film "First Contact" was a first run of the Borg's supposed total destruction and here it even emulates the look and style of the "The Best of Both Worlds II" victory as the Ent-D scoots away from the crumbling Uber Cube, right down to the camera flypast of the accelerating ship. None of it is surprising or new, and the fact they had the audacity to blatantly copy the "Death Star II reactor run" attack from "Return of the Jedi" cements that disappointing sense of déjà vu. We still live with writers who choose to forget the audience has had video tapes, then DVD, now Blu-ray and streaming for decades! If I want to watch BoBW I & II, "First Contact" or SW's "Return of the Jedi", I have the means to do so. I don't need it retreaded second hand like this. Even the jokes of Data's gut and Troi sensing fun and amusement don't lift this cut and paste scenario, far less the Ent D maneuvering like the Millennium Falcon or the Defiant. Even Crusher's on spot targeting, which raised a smile, we have seen before.

Other aspects are written to move the story forward but the glaring errors are completely glossed over. Picard's ongoing "woe is me" storyline, which by now has become annoying over tiresome, over boring. Never has such a popular character been undone by infused self pity, unless you count Daniel Craig's James Bond. The Borg's convoluted and long shot plan, the medieval idea that Jack has to be locked up as his abilities make him dangerous to one and all, his runaway from home teenager reaction. All old tropes dating back to 60s Trek that are outdated, stupid, and in the case of Troi as a bad councilor / therapist, rubbishing mental health is again in poor taste. The sheer number of hinted loose ends, that are not addressed is embarrassing...

  1. What DID happen to the Ent E?
  2. How many people died in the attack on Earth?
  3. Why was Jack Jnr not held to account for his actions in running to the Borg?
  4. Why did Riker and Troi fail to make any reference to their daughter when talking about the kids?
  5. What happened to the Borg Co-Operative in the Delta Quadrant and the recently seen friendly "Jurati Borg?"
  6. Why was the Enterprise-F, which seems fine, decommissioned?
  7. Galaxy- and Nebula-class ships were supposed to last decades. What went wrong?
  8. Since Captain Tuvok is very much alive and well (thankfully), could the real Admiral Shelby still be out there too somewhere?
  9. Was Spacedock destroyed, or just severely damaged?
  10. Where were the Klingons, the Romulans etc.?
  11. Who came up with the stupid idea of Fleet Formation Tech and it being a 'locked out' technology?!

I'll stop there, as I have used half the letters in the alphabet already.

I can't fault any of the actors. All of them deliver their A game and I knew of Ed Speleers thanks to his earlier work, esp Downton Abbey. The fact he makes Jack Crusher Jnr credible, even likeable, is an astonishing turn of performance, considering what a contrived creation the characterisation in the script is. In all his scenes he is solid and fluid and you really believe Speleers in his role as Beverly and Jean-Luc's son. Even though he is clearly ten years older than the character is supposed to be. The fact Crusher Jnr does become a Starfleet brat - one clearly trading on family connections to boot is a let down.

Supporting characters like the La Forge sisters and Raffi are given what we would expect and the actors do a good job with it. I also liked that a couple of the Titan bridge officers are given bits and pieces too. It's just a damned shame that characters like Shaw and Shelby join Icheb, Hugh, Ro Laren and the rest of the PIC era - discarded with no after thought, once they are deemed superfluous. Shaw's final message is not about him, it's purely about Seven, and that in many ways is a shame. It spoils the moment that should be built as a Seven and Tuvok scene, with no needless propping. Tuvok and Seven have known each other for decades by this stage. Modern Trek tries to do Game Of Thrones in how it uses its character, and it's hopeless at it! Here is an idea.

Have Admiral "Potty mouth" Clancy from season 1 back as the one who came up with Fleet Formation. Shelby sides with Picard and Co against the idea. As a result Ent-F and Titan both create a distraction, and Clancy, a non character from the beginning, gets the chop for her own Sheer (CENSORED) Hubris! - Elizabeth Shelby becomes the new supreme head of Starfleet.

A little more thought, a LOT more credibility.

The "One Year Later" business is an utter bore.

We get to see the Ent-D mothballed alongside the other "past" hero ships, which feels like a forced re-track of the end of "Generations", and the film's iconic music adds to that. Indeed, this story desperately tries to "undo" the ending of that film and its sad consequences. It just doesn't work. It only undermines "Generations" and forces a tacked on motif that was not necessary, or warranted. Drawing attention to it only makes this storyline of reusing the Ent-D in this manner all the more implausible. And for what? To shove it into mothballs beside the other "old" hero ships which are considered old news too from this point, by visuals as well as implication.

Beyond that, everything else is simply prop up padding to push the cynical idea to create frenzied speculation and fan support for a Star Trek Legacy series. After the poker game copying AGT apart from the setting, the scenes devolve into blatant fan fawning propaganda. Which I firmly reject, as there is some exceptional fan fiction out there, such as Star Trek Hidden Frontier, Star Trek Continues and Starship Intrepid. All written FAR better than this officially written proposed tripe!

Technically, the episodes are a little over engineered, as mad as that sounds. Sound effects from all eras of Trek are used in a mixed mele approach and it comes across as un-coordinated and sloppy. Some sounds, which in TNG and VOY had a specific meaning or function are tooted all over the place. It's both distracting and an annoyance. Visually there are more ships on screen than we have seen before (not counting DIS's pilot,) and some are nicely done, others are a crib and copy from Star Trek Online. It's a bit overwhelming and dare I say it, cluttered. A few appear to be recycled ideas that were rejected for previous projects too. A trait all to common in modern Trek. Any attempt at engineering credibility or sadly, emulating naval tradition is a thing of the past.

A final thought - I said what I thought regarding the Constitution III / Neo Constitution / ?? and how the older designs of ship from the TNG/DS9/VOY era were rubbished by one of the designers as the season's promo stuff started. No doubt to excuse the reuse of the 1701-A saucer for the Hero ship in this season of PIC. I had a lot to say on Facebook, and most of it I regretted almost immediately. But although one of the designers heard me out about the new Spacedock II, and I got the chance to apologise to them properly... Another cut me off before I even had the chance, because of my angry rebuttal to the "old ships may have been flawed" comments they had stated. I do not excuse my own behaviour, which I still regret. However, it was a disappointing reaction to say the least. It taught me a valuable lesson about keeping my distance from these people, and has changed my attitude towards social media completely.

But - If Trek is about tolerance and understanding the other person's point of view, and taking the time to hear people out and see things as they see it... How come "don't listen or acknowledge the haters" is becoming a scarily common and accepted whitewash motif, even when someone is not an actual hater?


Rating: 3 (Andy Kinnear)


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